When Camp Fire Girls was founded in 1910, it became the first integrated, non-sectarian organization for girls in the United States. Programming in the Northwest began in 1911 as groups in Forest Grove lead expeditions to a camp site at Rivera, on the banks of the Willamette River near the present site of Dunthorpe. The organization gradually evolved and the Portland Council was officially chartered in 1921.
Soon after, a search began for a site that would host a full service resident camp. A 552-acre plot of forest land located at the confluence of the Sandy and Bull Run Rivers was generously donated to the Council by local lumberman Samual B. Cobb. This land would become known as Camp Namanu, which opened its doors in 1924 and has been in continuous operation ever since.
In addition to programming at Namanu, Camp Fire has long served the communities of Oregon and southwest Washington by providing high-quality youth development programming for nearly a century. In 1975, Camp Fire became co-ed and changed its name to Camp Fire USA, reflecting its inclusive nature and values. The mission, building caring, confident youth and future leaders, has remained solid throughout.
Historical Architecture at Camp Namanu
“Pietro Belluschi put Portland on the cultural map.”
- Portland Monthly, September, 2006
Pietro Belluschi was undoubtedly the most eminent architect to come out of Portland Oregon in the last century. In the late 1920′s and early ’30′s, as Namanu was growing in popularity, Belluschi was in the early stages of what would be a remarkably prolific and influential career. During that time, he designed several of Namanu’s most attractive buildings, which are still in use today. These simple structures lend an air of rustic nostalgia to the camp and helped to define the soul of Namanu in its early days.
Belluschi came to America from Italy as an exchange student in 1923 and made his home in Portland, Oregon. He worked for many years with the renowned architecture firm A.E. Doyle and eventually took it over under his own name. While in Oregon, he designed such notable structures as the Portland Art Museum and the Equitable Building, the latter being considered one of his most important works as it is known as the first fully sealed air-conditioned environment.
His fame grew as he emerged to become an international leader of the Modern Design Movement. In the latter part of his career Belluschi became known as an educator and lecturer, and served as Dean of Architecture and Planning at MIT from 1951-1965; but he never stopped designing. When he died at his home in Portland at the age of 94, he left behind a diverse and inspiring body of work, totaling more than 1,000 buildings.